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NHS (U.K.) 

Brain differences linked to chronic fatigue syndrome

"Scientists find three differences in the brain [of people with chronic fatigue syndrome]," the Mail Online reports. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects around a quarter of a million people in the UK and causes persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, that can have a significant adverse impact on people's quality of life. The cause of CFS is unknown and the condition continues to be researche

Genes may play a role in Ebola survival chances

"Genetic factors could play an important role in whether people survive the Ebola virus," BBC News reports. Researchers found around one in five mice remained unaffected by the infection.Researchers investigated how mice with a different genetic make-up responded to Ebola infection. The research involved eight research strains of mice said to represent the majority of genetic variation seen a

Does paracetamol ease pain of decision making?

"Paracetamol could make difficult decisions less of a headache," the Mail Online reports. The story follows a US study that looked at whether taking paracetamol could reduce the pain of making difficult decisions. Researchers tested their theory in two experiments where young, healthy adults were given either paracetamol or an inactive placebo. The first experiment tested the theory that b

Details of autism genes uncovered in global study

“A massive international study has started to unpick the ‘fine details’ of why some people develop autism,” BBC News reports. A team of international researchers looked for variations in the DNA sequences of the genes in 3,871 people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and 9,937 unaffected family members or unrelated controls. The researchers identified 107 genes containing variations as

Milk may be linked to bone fractures and early death

"Drinking more than three glasses of milk a day may not protect bones against breaking – and may even lead to higher rates of death," the Mail Online reports.Do not be alarmed – your milkman is no Hallowe'en death-bringer. In fact, there are many reasons to treat this news – and the research behind it – with some caution.The research comprised an analysis of two large Swedish cohort studie

Could sex with 21 women 'cut prostate risk'?

"Sleeping with more than 20 women protects men against prostate cancer, academics find," The Daily Telegraph reports.The study in question included more than 1,500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and a matched group of men without prostate cancer from the general population. Researchers then interviewed the men about their sexual activity. The study concluded that having more than 20 fe

Agave syrup no better than placebo cough remedy

“Placebo cough treatment benefits children and their parents, study suggests,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A US study found that children’s reported cough symptoms improved even though they were just given a dummy treatment (placebo). The study compared the effectiveness of agave nectar (a sweet syrup similar to honey, from the agave plant), placebo (flavoured coloured water) or no treatm

Drugs may work better at certain times of the day

“Take your medication at the right time of day or it might not work,” The Independent reports. The news is based on a study which looked at the pattern of genes made in 12 different mouse organs, to see if any of the genes showed a circadian rhythm (the “body clock”: where the body reacts to a day and night cycle).Nearly half of genes that code for proteins showed a circadian rhythm in at

Lab-grown killer cells could treat brain tumours

"Scientists … have discovered a way of turning stem cells into killing machines to fight brain cancer," BBC News reports. While the results of this study were encouraging, the research involved mice, not humans.The headline is prompted by the creation of stem cells genetically engineered to produce a type of poison known as pseudomonas exotoxin. This poison was made to target a specific type

A mug of cocoa is not a cure for memory problems

"Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a 'typical 30 or 40-year-old'," The Independent reports.Before you race down to the supermarket to pick up a tub of chocolatey powder, you might want to pause to consider some facts that rather undermine this headline.The news is based on a small study that found a specially formulated cocoa-based drink high in "flavanols" made older peopl

'Putting clocks forward boosts kids' exercise'

“Moving the clocks forward by one extra hour all year in the UK could lead to children getting more exercise every day, say researchers,” reports BBC News.In the UK, the clocks move forward one hour during the summer months so that there are more daylight hours in the evening (daylight saving time).A new study has found that children are more active in daylight saving time, regardless of t

Sunshine isn't slimming and can't halt diabetes

"Sunshine can make you thin," claims the Daily Mirror, while the Daily Express splashed on its front page that, "Sunlight is key to fighting diabetes". Both are strong contenders for the title of the day's most inaccurate health headline.The news – reported more circumspectly by The Times and BBC News – is based on highly artificial laboratory experiments on mice. The study found that long

No need for nightshift workers to avoid steak

"Shift workers should avoid tucking into steak, brown rice or green veg at night," because these foods "disrupt the body clock," the Mail Online reports. But the research in question involved lab mice who were fed different amounts of dietary iron for six weeks to see what effect this had on the daily regulation of glucose production in their livers. The research found mice fed lower-iron

Do dopamine drugs lead to compulsive shopping?

“Drugs for restless leg syndrome cause gambling, hypersexuality and compulsive shopping,” Metro reports. Researchers in the US have looked at serious drug side effects reported to the FDA over a 10-year period. In particular, they were interested to see how often reports of impulsive behaviours such as gambling were linked to a group of drugs called dopamine receptor agonists. These drugs

Changes in 'Parkinson's walk' predict dementia

"Subtle changes in the walking pattern of Parkinson's patients could predict their rate of cognitive decline," The Times reports after new research compared the gait of people with Parkinson's disease with those of healthy volunteers. Parkinson's disease is a condition with three classic features: a tremor, stiff rigid muscles and slow movements, notably a slow, shuffling walk. It also has ot

NICE wants tooth brushing to be taught in schools

“Children should get their teeth brushed at school, says NHS watchdog,” The Daily Telegraph reports. The headline follows the publication of guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on ways for local authorities to improve the oral health of their communities. The new guidelines have been welcomed in some parts of the media, but others have accused NICE of crea

Paralysed man walks again after pioneering surgery

"World first as man whose spinal cord was severed WALKS," the Mail Online reports. In pioneering research, transplanted cells have been used to stimulate the repair of a man's spinal cord.The headlines are based on a scientific report describing a 38-year-old man whose spinal cord was almost completely severed in a knife attack. The man had completely lost feeling and movement below the injur

Smokers' homes 'as polluted as Beijing'

"Living with smoker 'as bad as living in polluted city'," BBC News reports. Scottish researchers have estimated that the level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in smokers' households is similar to those found in a heavily polluted city such as Beijing.PM2.5 are tiny particles less than two and a half microns wide that are components of air pollution. Because of their size, they are able to

BMI tests 'miss' over a quarter of obese children

"Quarter of obese children missed by BMI tests," the Mail Online reports. The headline was prompted by a review that combined the results of 37 studies in more than 50,000 children and found body mass index (BMI) is an imperfect way of detecting excess body fat. The study estimated more than a quarter of children (27%) with excess body fat might not be classified as obese when using BMI me

Viagra could double up as heart failure drug

"Sex pill Viagra could help men suffering from heart disease," reports the Mirror. This headline follows a new review into the potential heart benefits of the active ingredient in erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), called phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (PDE5is).PDE5is work by helping blood vessels dilate, which in the case of erectile dysfunction increases blood flow

Vegetative patients show awareness during scans

"Vegetative patients may be more conscious of the world than we think," The Independent reports. Electrodes have detected what has been described as "well-preserved" networks of brain activity in patients in a vegetative state. A vegetative state is when a person is awake and may have some basic motor reflexes, but no signs of awareness. It is one of a group of conditions known as disorders o

Exercise data signs could cut sugary drink intake

“Signs warning shoppers how much exercise they need to do to burn off calories in sugary drinks can encourage healthier choices,” BBC News reports. Signs in shops in an area of Baltimore seemed to have led to a change in shopping habits amongst Afro-American teenagers. Researchers first studied beverage purchases by black teens at six corner stores in Baltimore. They then tested the effect

Crash diets 'work best' claim misguided

“Crash diets DO work, claim experts,” the Mail Online reports. It reports on an Australian study involving 200 obese adults who were randomly assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight loss programme on a very low-calorie diet or a 36-week gradual weight loss programme. It found that 81% of people in the rapid weight loss group achieved the target weight loss (more than 12.5% of their bodyw

New way to distinguish between ovarian tumours

"A new test can help doctors identify ovarian cancer more accurately and cut down on instances of unnecessary surgery," BBC News reports. The BBC accurately reflects the findings of researchers who developed new tests for ovarian cancer. These tests use clinical and ultrasound findings to assess whether tumours are benign or malignant and, if they were malignant, the likely stage of the cance

Stem cells used to improve low vision

"Embryonic stem cells transplanted into eyes of blind restore sight," The Daily Telegraph reports, covering a study where human stem cells were transplanted into the eyes of people with visual impairment. This led to a significant improvement in their vision. This new research involved nine women with age-related macular degeneration and nine people with a rare condition called Stargardt's ma

Ebola could reach UK, but outbreak risk is low

“Global threat of Ebola: From the US to China, scientists plot spread of deadly disease across the world from its West African hotbed,” reports the Mail Online. This is a terrifyingly apocalyptic-sounding headline, yet the real story about Ebola is that, while still frightening and deadly, it is still a very low risk to people in the UK. Screening arrangements for visitors to the UK arriving fro

Warnings issued over energy drinks

“Energy drinks could cause public health problems, says WHO study,” The Guardian reports. A new review discusses the potential harms of these drinks, especially when they are mixed with alcohol.Energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, contain high levels of caffeine, which is a stimulant. They have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years, especially with young people, with many

Broccoli could 'hold the key' for treating autism

"Broccoli chemical may improve autism symptoms," The Daily Telegraph reports. A small study suggests sulforaphane, a chemical that gives broccoli its distinctive taste, may help improve some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The study found the symptoms of ASD improved in two-thirds of adolescent and young men who took a sulforaphane supplement. In the randomised controlled

Concerns raised about late diagnosis of lung cancer

"Doctors in Britain are 'missing opportunities' to spot lung cancer at an early stage," BBC News reports. A study found around a third of people with the condition die within 90 days of their initial diagnosis.The study looked at the medical records of more than 20,000 adults who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK between 2000 and 2013. They found people were more likely to die

Can we count on counting calories?

It's a concept at the cornerstone of most diets: counting the calories of your food intake so you don't go over the limit. But just how accurate are calorie labels? And are some calories more "equal" than others?There is a seemingly endless stream of media articles focusing on the latest diet wonder, whether it involves intermittent fasting or feasting on fats. Although they protest oth


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